Norwich City

Everton stance on Rafa Benitez sacking with anger inside club after Norwich loss


A fifth manager in six years at Everton is left sweating on his future.

For a fifth time in that timeframe, the form and results of the team has plunged to such depths that the club's powers that be are deciding whether to sack the boss.

It's the fifth time in six years that Everton find themselves in a crisis. Farhad Moshiri may soon be searching for his sixth permanent manager.

After this sorry, damaging defeat to Norwich City, you wouldn't bet on Rafa Benitez being able to buck the trend of what happened next to those before him and ride out this worsening storm.

Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva were all sacked for varying degrees of failure and, tonight, Benitez will fear the same fate awaits him.

"Other things are out of my hands," he said, after this.

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Koeman and Silva had seen their sides fall into the bottom three before the axe fell and while Everton remain outside of the relegation zone, for now, they are currently headed in only one direction.

The buffer between Benitez's side and the drop zone has been cut to six points but make no mistake, it's no sort of shield from the sack.

Benitez's reign at Goodison, six-and-a-half-months in, hangs by a thread and Everton's hierarchy are tonight discussing what to do next.

The message, immediately after this, was that no rash decisions will be made, but the reality for the decision-makers is that a must-win game was lost and they are weighing up what move to make.

The supporters in the away end are clear about what they want to happen. Crystal clear.

Benitez did not say so publicly, but he is long enough in this game, and aware of what happened to his predecessors, that his job is under threat. Serious threat.

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There is confusion and frustration at the top as to why Richarlison and Yerry Mina were not included from the start. Richarlison improved Everton when he came off the bench - playing for the first time since mid-December because of injury - and his overhead kick gave the Blues, and Benitez, hope of salvaging something.

But for all of Everton's dominance of the second period, Tim Krul was rarely tested. Norwich defended well but weren't overly stretched. They didn't play that well, yet won. Everton fell to a 10th league defeat of the season but this, against the basement club who had not won since November, was the worst of the lot.

Tonight, there is anger in the corridors of power at how Benitez, and Everton, failed to win this game.

With a close to clean bill of health, and even with the acceptance that certain players still are not 100% match fit, excuses will fall on deaf ears it seems.

The very real possibility of Benitez being sacked will be a long overdue decision for many supporters but the fall-out, and how it will leave Everton exposed at the halfway point in the season, is worrying.

If Benitez's time is up, where do Everton go? Who do they seek out to, first of all, drag this side away from the bottom three? It's a mess.

If the Blues stick with the Spaniard, give him time and the chance to prove what he can do now that more and more players are coming back, then there will be the unmistakable feeling that he is, simply, living game to game and another poor defeat away from the sack.

It will be taken as a stay of execution and will do nothing to improve the atmosphere around the club. Whether you've been against his appointment from the off, or believe an Everton manager needs to be given time and patience, everyone can agree that the club finds itself in yet another state of chaos.

Benitez has made mistakes - and his team selection has not gone down well - but we also cannot ignore that this group of players, many of whom have played under a succession of those managers, are failing too.

How many more managers must the club hire to try and get a tune out of a squad that, routinely, comes up short? Everton pay a lot of players handsomely but, clearly, too many are vastly overpaid.

Yes, this latest journey into the mire has to be Benitez's responsibility but it's also the players' too, and many need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Everton are in a sorry, sorry state. Benitez has walked into Goodison and, such is his way, set about trying to make changes that he believes will be for the long-term benefit of the club and correct mistakes of the past.

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Many have been unpopular and the extent of his ambition has only added to the pressure which now surrounds him because of the run of results.

Injuries have been an undeniable factor in much of the run that sees Everton in trouble but the treatment table has cleared sufficiently that selection headaches are no longer seen as mitigation.

It was clear, for many supporters and those at the top of the club, that this was a must-win game. Does Benitez survive losing such a match? Martinez lost at Sunderland 3-0, Koeman and Silva were dispensed with after 5-2 hammerings to Arsenal and Liverpool. Allardyce lost at West Ham on the final day but had long since overseen performances that sealed his exit.

Will this, a 2-1 defeat at Carrow Road, prove his downfall? Everton are going to decide that over the course of the next hours and, maybe, days.

But, soberingly, they have been plenty of times before.

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